R-E-S-P-E-C-T

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Henry, Lorelei and NoahPictures from a recent walk with Grandma

That first year of life with your child, you are at their whim. You get no say for the most part and do for them what they need. As they get older (like the day after their 1st birthday) the relationship changes and they’d like you to continue to do for them all the things. You start to say no more often, they start to scream, there might be spanking involved at some point and then they are tweens. That is something else entirely. They haven’t even hit teenagerland yet.

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I’ve noticed that I will take a lot of crap until I won’t. Once I won’t, that’s it. I listen longer than I should to the ranting and let them get away with a lot. Between Jason and I, if you had to pick the heavy, Jason would be it. The kids don’t really talk back to him and I think why is a combination of things. He’s rarely here (comparatively), he’s got the authoritative male voice, he’s old school, etc. Mom’s voice just becomes background noise at some point. I also try to listen for more reasons. Are they upset about something else and it’s just coming out loud? I like to get to the root cause and teach in the moment if possible. That’s not old-school. Good parenting seems to be a combination of both, in my opinion.

We love grandma

In the thick of things, day to day stresses, I believe we put up with a level of disrespect. It’s different for everyone, but we aren’t machines and we get worn down by the constant bickering, whining, and neediness of children. It ebbs and flows through phases and ages. Our relationship with our child also has a lot to do with the level of disrespect you will accept and that relationship is constantly changing as they grow. As I’ve grown I’ve begun to stand up for myself a little more. It’s sad to me to think that we have to defend ourselves against our children, but boundaries need to be set for all relationships. I’ve actually said out loud lately, “you cannot talk to me like that”. I’m sad to say that because I love my children and would hope that they would regard me with the respect I deserve simply because I gave them life and we do our best to take care of them and give them a good childhood. Did I mention I’m also too trusting? ;-)

Crazy Chip

Me and Chip

Henry has that idolization, but Noah? He thinks he’s grown. He’s realizing that he doesn’t HAVE to do anything. I’m realizing that I can’t MAKE him do anything. There’s just keeping the relationship healthy, giving good consequences and trying to teach him to make good choices. For Nora, it’s an entirely different relationship. She’s really angry and feels persecuted, for example, because she has to clean her room. Such drama that one! I’ve been letting them talk back to me, ignoring their rants, but have realized that that is not okay. It’s important that they treat me better. Not just because I’m their mother, but because it effects everything. It effects their school life and how they interact with teachers. It effects their sense of security. It effects their future relationships. It effects our household and the peace I’d like to have and we all deserve.

Oh, Henry

Lorelei and Oreo

Noah and Grandma

I also noticed that the kids were coming and going in and out of our bedroom. That was an outward expression of their level of respect for us. I put a stop to that. I kicked the dog out too (his crate) because that seemed to make our room a common area for them. That began a good precedent. I’ve begun to notice disrespect instead of ignore rude behavior towards me and others in the house. Rude behavior might include screaming at me or calling each other names. I deal with that first, now. Anything you change for yourself becomes a ripple effect for those around you and I think that’s what is happening here and I’m glad. I’ve also started rereading Boundaries with Kids by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. It’s a christian book, but still very good as is their whole Boundaries series. Things have begun to calm down around here. I was reading something about teenagers and disrespect and one thing jumped out at me. Teenagers are territorial. They begin to leave their crap everywhere to assert dominance. Ha! I’ve started a plan with Nora and her room. She doesn’t respect property, her own or anybody else’s. I’ve started to demand and trying to reward her for taking care of her stuff. I took most of her toys and stuff out of her room, giving her a small amount of things to take care of and if she can, she’ll get her stuff back as well as be able to pick out some new sheets, curtains, paint color possibly. It’s slow going, but I think she is getting there. Respect encompasses a lot more than just how we speak to one another.

View of the house

With us being a step family and ongoing issues with the kid’s father, life is rocky, loud and hard at times, but I love it. We continue to grow and change. We learn what works and what doesn’t and I know the kids benefit from our consistency and stability. That foundation is most important. I don’t feel yet that there is ever a point that you can’t make different choices. The kids aren’t ruined because I’ve been a doormat. They won’t be perfect now because we speak to them differently, but our household will be a little bit healthier, hopefully more peaceful and we’ve all learned a thing or two.


Pumpkinfest 2015

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We love the Pumpkinfest. We started going even before we moved here. There are local crafts, food, the pumpkin rolling contest which gets about 400 participants, and recently free bounce houses. We’ve done all of those, but they also have a costume parade, 5k Pumpkin Run, screaming contests and other smaller activities. People go all out, dressing up as an extremely tall real-life tree or this year, someone was a night riding an actual fire breathing dragon.

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20151024_125104I confess I did have a small piece of the funnel cake. The kettlecorn, though, (nomnomnom) that’s my jam.

I don’t know if this is healthy, but I sort of judge how we’re doing socially/relationally on a large scale by if we see people we know and those interactions. One year, I think last year, we only saw one person we knew and we didn’t approach them. This year, we saw friends, acquaintances from church and people we knew within the community.

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We brought Chip too. Oh the smells! Lol The local animal shelter walks dogs around in hopes that they will be adopted. Chip made many new friends. Jason and I talked about this being a memory the kids have of going to the pumpkinfest every year and bringing the grandkids here one day. :)


The Last Big Snowfall

Snow

Snow

Snow

This is what we woke up to last week not once, but twice. It was beautiful. We got between 3-4 inches both times which is enough to be stuck at home and play in during the morning.

Snow

kitty

chicken

kittyThe animals were silly in the snow, running around and playing, except for the chickens.

chicken and snow

Chicken and snow

Nope Nope NopeThe chicken says, “nope, nope, nope”. Lol

Nora snow ball

Lorelei and Nora's snowman

Snow pretty

Snow pretty

Snowball fightJason threw a LOT of snowballs at Noah, but Noah came back with one really good one!

Jason's favorite thing to do in the snow Snowball fights are his favorite, if you can’t tell by that huge grin.

pretty

Our house It didn’t last but a few days and we’re now more than ready for Spring!


February Snow Days

The kids were off all week due to “inclement weather and secondary road conditions”. Our first winter when the kids would have snow days I was a little appalled at how easily they called off school, but now I’m used to it and have acclimated. We seem to get at least one Winter Break 2.0 per year. It was actually a nice break from our routine. :)

Ice

Ice

The first few days were more ice than snow. It would fall then melt a little and fall again and freeze, so Jason was working from home for a few days. It finally snowed a little more on Thursday and again Friday late. I wish it would have just dumped a load and been done, but the weather is so silly sometimes.

yoga I took the snowportunity to get a #snowga picture.

Cat prints I love seeing the cat prints in the snow.

Cold Chicken
The chickens have mostly stayed in the coop. They’ve come out today because it is about 20 degrees warmer than it has been.

Bagauk?

Chicken prints Chicken prints are fun too.

Coop Most of the snow has melted and the chickens are thankful. Still pretty, though.


Room Sharing

With three bedrooms and four kids there is going to be some room sharing happening. A room for each child would be amazing. Even if they were tiny rooms at least they would each have their own space, but that would make our house five bedrooms. Yeah, pretty much impossible at the moment for many reasons. Last year about this time we moved a two year old Lorelei into a room with her 6 year old sister. I thought, “Girls sharing is the coolest!” “Sisters!” “It’s gonna be so sweet!” I was super wrong.

They fight. They fight so hard you’d wanna disown them both. All that room sharing love lessons? Nope. Just fights and not in the working it out/learning to live and love together way. It was a daily battle and I was done forcing it.

Henry is in the bonus room off of our bedroom right now and we’re beginning to think about him sharing with someone. We originally thought Noah, because they are both boys, but Noah has a million legos. He also has Nerf darts that Henry thinks are teethers. The foam feels awesome, I bet. Since the girls pretty much hate sharing a room, I started researching co-ed sharing. Noah and Nora are closer in age (10 and 7) and we aren’t quite to that point of puberty where sharing might be weird. I brought it up with Noah, giving him a choice of Nora or Henry and he quickly chose Nora. Nora adores her brother, so she was all for it.

We switched rooms this past weekend putting Nora and Noah together and giving Lorelei her own room until Henry is sleeping through the night (please be soon).

We finished just before dinner time including getting curtains up and most everything squared away. You know what happened? Noah and Nora closed their bedroom door to Lorelei and a sigh of relief fell over the whole house. We had a discussion at dinner about the rules of the room and they decided on being courteous, giving privacy for changing and no hitting. Noah has the bottom bunk, so it feels like a secret cave, which he loves, while Nora is on the top bunk maintaining a position of power. (Crucial for living with a strong-willed sibling.) It has worked out beautifully. The bigs stay up for a little longer at night reading and when school starts, Lorelei will be able to sleep in while the others get up and get ready.

You might be feeling sorry for Lorelei being in a room all by herself, but I can tell she loves it. She has a hard time going to sleep straight away and she enjoys pestering Nora, so now that she is alone she has no one to pester and can read and sing until she falls asleep, which thankfully is getting earlier.

It’s funny to me how easy it was to switch rooms. Their sheets and decor match well and the girl’s room feels homier with Noah’s stuff displayed. (He’s quite the hoarder.) This situation probably won’t work forever, but for now, it rocks.

We were out at the boat Sunday and I got a video of Lorelei and Henry dancing.


Daily Life

I took a few pics while cooking dinner the other night:

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Nora is bonding with the chicks. I think once we get the coop built she’ll be a big help with taking care of them.

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Henry is a big help with the dishes. Lol As soon as he hears you begin to put them away, he sprints over and starts licking all of the silverware and pulling on the bottom drawer.

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Most evenings Noah is doing homework. He gets quite a bit, but is doing pretty well in school. Lorelei was drawing at the island. She is in the round body and straight legs stage. So cute!

Lately, the kids have been fighting a lot or maybe I notice more now that I’m the one getting up with them and taking them to school as well as picking them up and running them around after school. It is one of the things that drives me crazy; the shrill scream they let loose at an offense which starts the yelling back and forth or somebody hits somebody else for whatever reason. During Spring break I got a handle on the yelling at one another. As soon as I hear an outburst I simply say, “5 burpies”. They then owe me those burpies and surprisingly it has cut the yelling way back. I don’t expect complete silence and we are still working on Lorelei who isn’t responsible for the burpies, but there is no reason to scream, “OW!” Or “GET AWAY FROM ME!” Or “GIVE ME THAT BACK!”. I’ve taught them how to interact with each other, the screaming is a habitual reaction that the burpies are correcting (thankfully).

After a particularly rough morning this past weekend of fighting and burpies we were outside in the back yard planning the coop and we made them run a few laps in the yard. My thinking is you must have extra energy if you are irritating each other that much. This physical activity seems to work for us because it is used at karate. Nora is interested in it and wants to prove herself worthy of changing from dance to karate.

For the hitting, I’ve had them stand in the living room and do punches or kicks for 20 minutes straight. The thinking is borrowed from Mr. Mo at karate; they must need the extra practice if they are putting their hands and feet on each other. Again, I’ve taught them that hitting is not an appropriate reaction for most circumstances, but the physical activity seems to drive the point home.

I don’t know if the same would work for every child. I’m just glad we’re getting a handle on it.


Week of Transition

Last week was the first week that Jason was in Asheville all five days. He is now only doing one job. He leaves at 6a and gets home at 6p Monday through Friday. He seems to be doing well, but it is a big change from Angel.

I get up (or try to) at 530a and get ready. I hopefully have a few minutes of quiet time to myself before I get the kiddos up. I really cannot believe that I am that mom. The one that gets up early and then wakes her kids up for school. It doesn’t seem that long ago that my mom was getting me up for school.

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Hi!

I think I have passed the denial stage of this transition (“oh! I can handle this! Taking the kids to school is fun!’) and am hanging out in anger (“Ugh. All they do is fight!”) It isn’t rational, I’m just mad at having to get up and do all of the morning chores with the kids; get them ready, take them to school and then do my regular stuff with the littles. Then, I turn around and do all of the evening stuff with the kids too. I used to look forward to Jason coming home, but now when he gets here everything is done and he’s tired and not much fun to be around. We’ll get the hang of it though. I should be through to acceptance by the time school lets out. ;o)

The days are long and most times difficult, but I would not trade them. I know that things will slowly get easier as Henry gets older (and harder in some ways) and until then I compromise. I don’t make lunches for the kids anymore because it stresses me out and gives me one more thing to do; instead they eat at school. Next year we’ll combine activities because being out and about four times a week chauffeuring children is not my idea of fun and not theirs either. We’re burnt out and still have a few months to go.

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In the meantime, I’m learning to make felt flowers, crochet flowers and thinking about wreaths and what my potential etsy shop will look like. Learning new things keeps my mind occupied and my energy positive. We are also thinking about getting chickens! I wish I had friends with chickens. I’d love a firsthand look at owning them. What if we hate fresh eggs? What if we get devil chickens that try to peck our eyes out? What if cleaning out their coop makes me want to claw my eyes out? Just because they make it look cool on the hipster sites does not mean it’s for us. We’ll decide this weekend. I took Lorelei to the farm store to peek at the chicks and they had ducks too! So cute! Maybe we’ll have ducks in the far future when we have the imaginary land that Jason would like to own. My doula had ducks, they’re messy!

Anywho, time to wake up the kids and start the day.


After the Break

I have to say that I really enjoyed my break over the weekend. I started Friday at 6p and ended Sunday at 6p. I did well until I noticed my laptop does a soft ding when I get a notification. I needed to check my notifications! lol I managed to refrain until the appointed time.

We also held the kids off of watching movies and shows for the most part. We let them watch a movie on the 2 hour drive, but Sunday nothing. They played so well!

I enjoyed being disconnected from my phone. I felt like I could breathe! I did other things without having my phone sitting right next to me and interrupting myself to check fb, instagram, my blogs. It’s just so automatic.

What I learned is that leaving my phone somewhere away from me is a good thing and there are other ways I could be using my brain rather than sucking up random info from fb all day long. I also got some perspective on sharing too much. If I throw out a quick status update I’ve almost assured myself of not blogging about it. It also begins that cycle of gratification. I post something someone likes it which makes me feel good about myself and what I wrote, so I write something else and I spend energy trying to be clever and really, I could be doing something else, something worthwhile of my time. DOn’t hear me saying that I am deactivating my account because that’s not the case, I’m just a little more mindful of when I go on and what I post.

Before the break we had started tapering off of how much we let the kids watch too. If I let them watch something at home once a day which is my limit, then they go to the gym and something is always playing there and then in the car if we are waiting for someone at dance or karate. That adds up to a lot. I’m trying to be more mindful of that as well. Adding it all up together. The kids are calmer if they don’t watch much and play so much better together.

The kids are off Mon-Wed this week of school. I feel like these breaks get us ready for Summer. We go a long with just a day or two off and then, BAM! Christmas break. A little look at what life will be like come Summertime. If you don’t remember so well, here’s three day sin a row. It won’t be too bad. I’ll definitely have to put the kids on my gym membership, but it should be fun, only four months away!

Maybe I’ll see you on fb today…maybe not. ;o)

I had to pick up my new glasses in Sylva yesterday, so we stopped at a park with an all wooden structure and a neat tire swing.

Noah pushing the girls

The girls swinging

I got on too

New glasses!


A Trip to the Dentist

Reading and waiting

A few days ago it was time for Noah and Nora’s fillings at the dentist. Noah had begun to complain of pain, so it was past time to get his taken care of either by a filling or it being pulled (it was a baby tooth). The plan was for Nora to go first. Nora freaks out easily especially if she doesn’t know what’s going to happen. If Noah was brave, as I knew he would be, then Nora would be brave. Unfortunately, the dental assistant thought that Noah should go second and Nora should go first, because hers were tiny fillings that she wouldn’t even need numbing for and could be taken care of in a snap. Noah’s would need numbing and might be a little traumatic for both of them. Sigh.

I agreed and Nora went back. I planned to stay in the waiting room with the other three, since Nora had a great experience at her cleaning appointment a few weeks ago. A few minutes later, however, a hygienist asked for me to come back too. Henry was sleeping, so I asked Noah to keep an eye on him and Lorelei and I quickly went to Nora, to see what I could do. I found Nora crying and saying how she didn’t want to go first and freaking out like I knew she would. We spent some time telling her what would happen and how easy it would be, the assistant showed her every tool and let her touch them. They got out the monkey you get to hold if you’re scared. Nora wasn’t completely reasonable, but she was calming down. Noah came to get me just then, so I had to go back to the other kids. Noah stayed for a few minutes with Nora, being a good brother as well as checking things out for himself. I do not like their dentist personally, but he’s a great dentist. Noah informed me that after a huge scream (which I heard out in the lobby) Nora submitted and it was over quickly.

Next, it was Noah’s turn. He has been to the Molar Roller which is a mobile dentist that goes to the school and does cleanings for the kids, so he wasn’t scared at all. After a little while I went back with Henry to check on Noah, while Nora stayed out with Lorelei reading books and playing.

Camped out

He was still getting numb and the assistant showed where a pus pocket had formed on Noah’s gum. It seems it had been worse than Noah let on about and they were going to pull it. He was doing okay. He needed two shots, one of them in the roof of his mouth, so he was a little sad, but still being a trooper. I went back out to the lobby. After taking the picture above I realized that gone were the days of waiting patiently while sitting in a chair. With four kids; you spread out, you bring snacks, you might even leave them alone for a minute with their older sibling. You remain polite and don’t allow them to run around screaming or anything obnoxious, but sitting quietly in a chair for two hours ain’t gonna happen. Getting a babysitter for the younger two won’t either, so buck up I must!

A while later Noah came out, all done. He said it had hurt and he had cried a little, but he had his (disgusting and huge) tooth in a cute little tooth holder necklace ready to give to the tooth fairy. (The f’ing tooth fairy, how I hate her.) We got our instructions and left. Let me tell you, my kids did better afterwards than the 67 year old lady in the lobby complaining about having to get gauze on the way home.

I’m glad it’s over and we won’t have to go back for six months!